Writing the DBQ is more straightforward than you think. 

More DBQ Resources:

Here are some quick tips:

The Basics

  1. There is one DBQ to be written in 60 minutes.
  2. You do not have a choice of prompts, you must write the DBQ given.

The Rubric: DBQs are graded on a scale of 7 points:

  1. Thesis/Claim (1 pt): Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible claim. ANSWER THE PROMPT!  “Railroads supported empire-building by __________ and___________, BUT they undermined it by ________________."
  2. Contextualization (1 pt): Describes a broader historical context relevant to the prompt. Think of what happened in the years/centuries leading up to the prompt. Big events like global wars, trends, patterns, etc. You MUST connect this to the prompt.
  3. Evidence from the Documents (2 pts): Use evidence from the docs to prove your point. Do not quote, just use what the docs are saying to support your argument and cite them like this (2). If you use evidence from 3 docs, you can earn 1 pt and 6 docs will earn you 2 pts. 
  4. Evidence Beyond the Documents: Consider people, places, events, concepts, etc that are NOT discussed anywhere in the documents and connect them to your argument.
  5. Sourcing (1 pt): For at least 3 documents, explain how or why the context, intended audience, purpose, or point-of-view of the document explains why the author said these things.
  6. Complexity (1 pt): Demonstrates a complex understanding of the development. This is holistic! You should weave a counter-argument throughout your essay.

Fiveable's DBQ Outline:

  1. Intro paragraph - 3-4 sentences of context to explain background information and relate it directly to the topic of the prompt. 1-2 sentence thesis statement that restates prompt + provides an argument. See frame above ^^. 
  2. Body Paragraph #1 - Topic sentence to intro one part of your argument. Explain a piece of evidence from a document to back you up and connect that evidence directly to your argument. Source the document (HIPP) - choose Historical context, Intended Audience, Purpose, POV. Do the same thing with another document. And a third if possible. Then include a piece of evidence not mentioned anywhere in the documents and explain it to strengthen your essay.
  3. Body Paragraph #2: Repeat ^^
  4. Body Paragraph #3: Repeat ^^
  5. Conclusion Paragraph: Sum up your argument including counterargument. Re-word your thesis. You can earn the thesis here if the one in the intro wasn't strong enough. 
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